Farmer Focus: Flexible arrangements vital for young farmers

We are fortunate on Anglesey that the island still has some viable and desirable council holdings, some of which are perfect starter holdings for young people.

I have recently been helping a great young person to prepare his tender for one of these very holdings. 

First, I need to commend the late tenant and the council for the fantastic condition the successful candidate will find the farm in.

However, the draft tenancy agreement is archaic and puts more barriers in the way of a young entrant than it removes.

See also: How we can attract new entrants to dairy

It seeks to prohibit some of the best tools available to young entrants to get going, such as entering into contract, partnerships, share farming, management or cropping agreements or to sell any growing crops, silage or take in any third-party livestock. 

I would argue the skills to exploit these types of arrangements are the very ones a successful candidate should have.

I agree that the council needs to protect itself from subletting and I, of course, do understand there could be a Trojan horse effect of an established business getting the farm.

However, this should not be to the detriment of a young person being able to work alongside established farms that have the resources a young farmer can’t afford or justify, the know-how and support they will need through difficult periods and the needs they can exploit to develop robust, profitable and sustainable businesses.

For example, 100 third-party animals reared on a relatively secure profit margin a head/day as part of the overall business would carry less risk than purchasing store animals with no known margin at the end and the associated capital outlay required.

The capital could be invested in the land to increase its performance and stocking rate.

At home, Sam and the team are doing a top job.

Grass growth has just about kept up with demand and recent rain has given the growth boost we will need to build grass covers going into the autumn.

Scanning takes place at the end of the week, so fingers crossed for a good in-calf rate.

Johnjo Roberts is a Farmer Focus writer on Anglesey. Read his biography.